15 October 2018

Constancy

I wonder what the opposite of change is…sameness, perhaps? Or perhaps permanence is a better word. Whatever term we settle upon, I am sure we have all desired it at some stage in our lives; a point when we have wished that things could remain just as they are, if not forever, then at least for a while longer.

We are often told that change is the one constant in our lives; that change is good. Indeed, hearing this may be the only thing that does not change! And there is no doubt that many changes are of benefit, even if we do not enjoy the process of change while it is happening. Everything changes, sooner or later; that is the cycle of life. However, it appears that the pace of change is also changing. In the past, things evolved slowly, whereas today, it seems change occurs very rapidly.

Perhaps this embodies the great dilemma in the life of every human – that we actually need something permanent in our lives and yet nothing is.

When everything around us, and about us as a being, is changing, we need something to hold us in place, so that we can make decisions which are not based on – or severely affected by – the churning waters around us. This is particularly so when there is a great deal that is changing or when change is happening very quickly. We all need an anchor during the storm to stop us being dashed against the rocks or to prevent us from being swept away, or losing sight of our destination, or getting completely lost. And this is particularly so for young people.

We need people in our lives who are going to be there for us, who can guide us if and when we need it, and who can provide that guidance even though we might not think that we need it. Sometimes, when we are in the storm, it becomes about survival. Sometimes, we think we are more in control than we actually are, and only those outside can see that we are not. I think children at school need to know that they can rely on people; that people will be there when they need them.

These people represent particular values for us, people whose advice we can trust, people who will remind us about what is important, or who point us in the right direction. This is what parents and teachers do for young people. We should present – and represent – values in the world. And whilst many things in their lives are changing (from their bodies and voices to their clothing, friends, and understanding of the world), young people need to have a reference point, a north star, which remains fixed in their sky to guide them, which they can see in times of darkness and hopefully during the storm. They may not want to look at it, they may not use it often, but just knowing that it is there can make a difference.

I read a passage in a book by Alexander McCall Smith the other day, talking about young people, which I thought was quite profound:

  …That's what it's like to be nineteen, or whatever it is they are, she said to herself. That's when you have strong views and strong uncertainties; you can't believe that others may not see you as you see yourself, or love you as you love them. It was a wonderful age in so many respects, and yet so horrible in others. You thought of yourself as more of less immortal, with all the time in front of you that near-immortality conferred – forty, fifty years, even sixty – and yes, you would achieve most of your ambitions. And yet you worried so much about what people thought of you, about your looks, about the clothes you wore, and you could hardly believe the world was so slow to listen to your opinions.

I remember the certainty of youth with a tinge of embarrassment; it has been replaced by the unsureness of middle age! And whilst something fixed, or a firm anchor, can be a good thing, we also need to be careful that it does not keep us stuck in one spot. An anchor is something used when required, not all the time.

Rather than simply teaching them a subject, we must ensure young people have the skills to ride life's waves and the moral anchor to hold them in place when they need to make difficult choices.

As Louisa May Allcott so eloquently put it: "I'm not afraid of the storm, for I'm learning how to sail my ship." Our job is to help our boys learn the skills for life, not to sail the ship for them.

Brain Reset

These sessions continue for Year 11s and 12s on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3.45pm - 4.30pm. They are designed to help students relax their bodies and minds, which allows them to focus far better and to be more productive. Please encourage your son to attend.

SchoolTV

Please remember that the school has a subscription to this website, which provides information and support for parents regarding a number of important issues related to young people. The most recent topics include body image and eating disorders. The website can be accessed from the Scotch homepage or via this link.

Research into student emotions

From time to time, we have the opportunity to work with researchers with regard to improving the wellbeing of our students. We have received a request from ECU regarding some research they are doing into the measurement of adolescent emotions. This is important work, as there has been little done in this area. It will hopefully lead us towards a more accurate measurement tool which can be used in schools, which will enable us to better assist students to deal with challenges they may face.

We understand that parents and students have been asked to complete a number of surveys recently, so whilst we would like to encourage as many of our students in Years 7-12 to take part in the survey, we will leave the decision to participate to each family.

If you are willing to let your son/s take part in the anonymous, 15-20 minute online survey, we ask that you contact Michelle Macdonald (michelle.macdonald@westnet.com.au ). Once the survey is completed, your son will go into a draw for iTunes vouchers and a Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing